3. The other unspoken issue which becomes a barrier, is the fact that most people agree that individuals with intellectual disabilities who can’t independently take care of their kids, shouldn’t have a baby to begin with. But of course, once the baby’s here people’s beliefs don’t matter much.
Where the baby came from DOES need to be addressed. Is the mom consenting status? (There’s an assessment for this, I do them all the time).
If yes, it’s good- get birth control training specific to disability (e.g. Don’t demonstrate a condom on a banana unless you want them to put a condom on a banana before sex).
If mom’s not consenting status is the father consenting status? If not, someone neglected these individuals and they need round the clock support. Find out their guardian stat. Make sure guardian doesn’t also have intellectual disability. If they do (very common) must find guardian for them- may need to be a non-profit.
If mom is not consenting status and dad is you technically have a sexual assault that needs reporting. It really depends. Maybe the dad was unaware of mom’s disability. Either way you need someone from an OPWDD program to help you sort it out (sometimes I can train mom to be consenting status specific to one person and keep their sex life legal).
Then there’s incest among family members who all have intellectual disabilities. Also common and boy people don’t like to talk about it so the babies keep coming…
Another common one I see is a group of friends with intellectual disabilities who all live in the same housing project, all were in the same special ed classes, dropped-out, never got sex ed, and are making babies that end up in the system. Which is cool, but they need support, maybe turn an apartment in the complex into a group home and don’t wait until the kids are school age before getting them support as well.
Something tells me that none of these conversations are happening in the NYC child welfare system of a bazillion departments and employees. I wish they would.
Now that I'm back at work....(with individuals with developmental disabilities)
I have a renewed “what-the-fuck” over the fact that so many parents, with kids in foster care, have a developmental/intellectual disability (formerly known as mental retardation), and it’s because of their disability that the children are in foster care, yet- it’s purposefully ignored.
On a couple of instances now I’ve been in meetings where the parents’ intellectual disability is read out loud off of their medical forms (or whatnot) but no disability services or modifications are offered. And there’s no acknowledgment of the extra challenges. Like, they’re given a piece a paper and asked to write something down or told to follow a map to a program. Most of the FOSTER parents I’ve encountered can’t write nor read a map (not because of a disability but for whatever reasons). Then we say that the parent is refusing services. Or, if they do go to a class, they learn absolutely nothing because it’s not taught with the support they need.
Why? I think it’s 2 problems. First, stigma. Down Syndrome seems to be the only intellectual disability we accept and support. It’s a more undeniable disability in that people with Down’s have identifiable physical features. However, most people with intellectual disabilities don’t have specific physical characteristics. Their disability might have been caused by not getting enough oxygen during birth, brain injury after birth (but before age 21), lead poisoning, seizures, and dozens of other ways. But the disability is real. And not talking about it doesn’t make it go away and it’s definitely not the more sensitive thing to do. In fact, it adds to the shame.
If a parent were blind, a case worker wouldn’t just hand them a map and wave them on their way. And if a parent were in a wheelchair, I bet most case workers would make sure the classes were accessible. The same should be done for people with intellectual disabilities. If they are parents with kids in foster care, the only difference between them and other parents with intellectual disabilities is that they don’t have support. They don’t have family, or a program or a neighbor adding into their lives whatever thinking process is missing. Those parents have people around them who are most likely speaking very frankly with the person about their intellectual disability and subsequent challenges. Someone is in their life saying "Check your calendar, what appointments do you have today?" and "If you spend your money on that, you won’t have money for the baby’s _______."
1. intellectual disability awareness. [Say it with me “Intellectual disabilities are real. The limitations are real. But it’s okay! Individuals can still have meaningful, productive lives- even as parents- so long as they have support]
2. a panel (child welfare loves their panels!) of individuals with intellectual disabilities who are successfully parenting (with appropriate supports) so case workers/attorneys can see that it can work
3. OPWDD services really must be a service plan requirement in most cases. It’s not too late to get someone diagnosed in adulthood. And note, if the family isn’t able to take care of the kids up to now, consider that grandma and other family members might also have an intellectual disability and that’s why the parents aren’t already receiving services. I’ve seen several horror story like situations where ACS has passed kids off to even more disabled relatives (who probably had said support in raising their own kids but family has since died or moved) only to end up with the kids in a bigger mess.
OPWDD services are include pretty much the same standard parent services but it’s for life (as is the disability) and modified specifically to the disability (e.g. job training, parenting classes, anger management).
4. there really needs to be a day program where parents with intellectual disabilities can take their kids from age 0-3 (until CPSE or Head Start). Pulling individuals out of their programs to stay home with a home attendant who watches the baby is the worst. I’ve seen approx 6 cases and am aware of another 10. In most situations the parent regresses from the isolation, and resents the baby, and wants to get back to day program and their routine. Not to mention, the fathers aren’t pulled out of their program to go help. Father engagement would be much higher if the family was together at day program.
The second problem is, that in New York State, it’s still on the legal books that parental rights can be terminated if a parent has an intellectual disability. My understanding is that it’s almost never used. Instead of intellectual disability- rights are terminated after the generic, unmodified classes are taken and the issues of neglect, abandonment or abuse aren’t rectified. In this case, NY needs to take intellectual disabilities OFF the legal reasons for terminating parental rights so that defense attorneys can chill out let their client go on the record having received OPWDD services.
Just dump the law like most of the other states have. It’s useless anyway.
All of Sandy’s new found language is blowing my cover. For instance, she often catches me eating chocolate so I’ll give her a small piece. But now, she’s all “MOUTH CHOCOLATE. CLEMENTINE CHOCOLATE!! CLEMENTINE MOUTH!!” and I’m all “SSSHHHH! Clemmie doesn’t have to know!” But it’s always too late and Clementine’s eyes will be the size of saucers and she’ll start grunting like a mad woman.
I know the 2 appointments in one day is not allowed across the board in New York. The guys at work with developmental disabilities miss half of their day program activities because they have to take a day per appointment.
And even Early Intervention is involved. I can only take Clementine to the doctor on the two days she doesn’t get early intervention. Thank goodness she doesn’t have that many appointments. I really think this needs adjusted for foster kids. No one should have to choose between speech therapy and getting that pink eye checked out.
I’ve complained about this before when I had a premie foster baby that needed to see 7 doctors in the first week but Medicaid only allowed one appointment a day.
Well, a friend has a new foster kid with 9 cavities and guess what, the dentist is saying they’re only allowed to fill one cavity per visit. Please, please, please tell me she was misinformed. This is absurd on so many levels.
Foster kids should get some sort of waiver.
We all have pinkeye again. The pediatrician told me last time that I didn’t have to bring them in, he’d just call it in. I called him, he’s on vacation. I can’t get through to anyone else at his office.
I WENT to my doctor’s office this morning, they said they can’t fit me in NOR will they call in the drops. What? I need a new PCP stat. I just had a full check-up there in March. After I put their pen down I suggested that they sanitize it.
It’s Friday. In August. Everyone is out. I refuse to go to a walk-in clinic for stinking pink-eye. We just need a refill for goodness sake. Uuuuuuuhhhhhgggg. My eyes are burning, it’s like a bad joke.
The hold-up now for Clementine’s adoption is just in getting the medical records from the foster agency. I’d actually given up already and signed that I’d gotten everything, but my attorney wants to try one more time.
I only share this because maybe it’ll help someone else. I’ve had a good experience as a whole with the adoption unit at the foster agency and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. However…. What the foster agency is providing, and labeling, as Clementine’s medical records is actually just an in-house form they’ve created called a “medical report”. This is not the medical record. The medical records are the documents by which they are getting the information to fill out the “medical report”. I want THOSE documents (i.e. hospital records, labs).
Why does it matter? Because human error is rampant in medical files everywhere. I once worked at a place where a person’s file stated that in addition to having severe intellectual disability, she was also deaf. We proceeded as though she was deaf for 4 years until I realized SHE’S NOT DEAF AT ALL (saw her listening to Wheel of Fortune and then shout out the letters even though her back was to the screen. further testing confirmed perfect hearing).
And yes, even at this foster agency I’ve gotten the wrong kid’s medical information a few times. So if Clementine has a right to her medical records, isn’t it my job to secure those for her? I’m not asking for anything radical like mom’s HIV results. I’m asking for Clementine’s tox screen and discharge form (weight, height, apgar score and attending physician). I have years and years coming of doctors asking me about her birth and I’d really like to stop saying “Well, mom says this, but the case worker says that and then there’s the random ‘medical report’ I got from the foster agency says this other, so I can’t say anything for sure”.
What’s even sadder to me is that most adoptive parents at this foster agency must accept the “medical report” in lieu of the real records unknowingly or else they give up like I do because it seems as though no one’s ever held out before. I’m still ambivalent over holding out this long though…once she’s adopted I could try to get the records directly myself, but even then, I’m guessing there will be obstacles. This is probably Clem’s best chance.
I’m in super-obsess-about Sandy’s-case-mode. No one knows what the new attorney is thinking and I’m paranoid that a settlement conference will happen without me knowing (like what happened with Jacket) and any day now Sandy will be returned to her mom.
E-courts is fantastic and crazy-making at the same time. It’s only ever about half correct. I can see that certain attorneys have put in motions but I have no idea what those motions are about. The new case worker probably won’t even get ahold of the foster agency attorney until the day before court. Uuuuuuhhhhh. High school students prepare more for class presentations than some attorneys prepare for court. I know they’re way overworked and it’s the system, but it’s also Sandy’s life.
I wanted to be the support system for these children, not hire it.
So I wrote on babble.com about my conflicted on having an attorney as a foster parent. It’s a lot more edited than my usual posts, but it’s also pretty scattered because my thoughts still aren’t clear. I do wonder what people think about foster parents who retain attorneys…
Having a rotating cast of people who only spend 5 minutes thinking about your case, aka our lives, but deciding it’s fate. It’s is
It would be crazy-making to be in this position for a week. 2 years is gut-wrenching.
I am fortunate enough to have an awesome, experienced attorney offer to take on our case pro bono. Pro bono foster parent cases are very, very rare. I was super conflicted about adding myself so aggressively to the court proceedings. However, at this point I’m the only person left who knows this case, I want to make sure all of the facts are kept straight.
I loathe talking about dating in relation to fostering but it’s the most asked question. My Babble.com editors have always asked me to write from the ‘single mother’ perspective, but it’s not something I identify with. I usually say that sometimes I’m single, sometimes I’m not. I don’t want to hoist the flag up and down the spectrum of my singleness or coupledness.
But, here’s the deal. I originally told myself that I’d start dating once the girls turned 1. When that happened I laughed at the absurdity. I was still barely surviving the day-to-day. So I told myself I’d reconsider when the girls turn 2. I also don’t want to get involved with a guy, have it not work out and then regret missing out on crucial time with Sandy and Clementine.
My newest marker is the termination of parental rights (TPR) trial for Sandy. There’s NO WAY I’m going to try to start dating someone with that going on. I get crazy obsessive around court dates and I want to be left alone with my thoughts and my computer to rehash every morsel of the case. I want to predict what will happen, I can’t help it. Soo, after Sandy’s case is sorted (which, for the love of god I hope it will be) I’ll be open to dating again.
I’m thinking dating will be a whole new ball game with two children. Instead of just having a daughter, I have KIDS. Crazy, chaotic kids. We’re going to be a LOT to take on!
Oh, and I didn’t get the toys organized at all because I passed out cold and the girls rummaged through them the next morning. Fail.
And for those of you calling for me to put 2/3 of the toys away… 1.) 2/3 ARE put away. You’re only looking at 1/3. So I guess I have more work to do, except 2.) Remember, I’m a New Yorker, I don’t have an ‘away’ place. Closet space is very, very limited for us. Usually if it has to be put away it goes to Salvation Army.
Also, Sandy and Clementine haven’t a centimeter of overlap in the toys they play with these days. I expect them to even out soon but there’s still a developmental gap.